When Noel Lanzas read about a Miami Beach woman who called a black, would-be London visitor a "monkey" and other racial slurs, he wasn't surprised. For almost a year, he says, the same woman — Giulia Ozyesilpinar — had been harassing him for being gay and HIV-positive. She sent emails calling him a “fucken AIDS infested Faggot” and tried to get him in trouble at his workplace. Lanzas had already filed a complaint about the harassment with the Miami-Dade Commission on Human Rights, which investigates discrimination, and is now awaiting a hearing.
"It was just like a relief for me," Lanzas says of seeing the story about the London tourist. "It was like, 'Oh my God, somebody has the balls to put this person on display.'"
Ozyesilpinar's treatment of Monifah Brown, a 24-year-old woman who planned to rent Ozyesilpinar's Ocean Drive property for a September vacation, made international news last week. According to screenshots and recordings Brown shared with New Times, Ozyesilpinar repeatedly called Brown a "nigger" and sent voice messages of herself making monkey noises and asking, “You want banana?" Ozyesilpinar disputed Brown's account of the incident, but Booking.com eventually removed her listing.
The whole ordeal sounded familiar to Lanzas, a 57-year-old hotel concierge and longtime Miami Beach resident. He was a 15-year board member at a small Miami Beach condo building where Ozyesilpinar owns two units, but he didn’t know her until last spring, when she suddenly accused the board of embezzling and then staged a coup. According to emails Lanzas provided to the human rights commission, the harassment began amidst the board takeover.
In defense of her actions, Ozyesilpinar says — as she did when Brown's allegations surfaced — that the board members insulted her first. She says she only insulted others to defend herself. She also claims, without proof, that the board financially mismanaged the building.
The dispute between Ozyesilpinar and Lanzas seems to have begun last summer, when she began sending the building's residents emails referencing the board members' sexuality.
"Being Gay in your bedroom is your problem But being Gay out of the bedroom in your actions being False a Bully becomes our problem," reads a July 2018 email directed at a gay board member and sent to all unit owners. "Jorge as long as you do not steel my money you can stick the whole building in your ass that will calm your heat a little."
Lanzas responded with, "Stop insulting people you piece of human waste... How can you look at yourself in a mirror your best reflection is when you look down to the toilet. You need an exorcism." Soon Ozyesilpinar turned her attention to him, writing, "Shut your faggot mouth and keep taking up in the ass you fucken AIDS infested Faggot." Within minutes, she sent another: "Keep cleaning hotels bathroom you fucking old faggot and stop spreading AIDS." Later that night, she made a threat: "Faggot I know where you work tomorrow I am turning your email to human resources."
Sure enough, Ozyesilpinar emailed a manager at the hotel where Lanzas worked, the St. Regis. In it, she claimed Lanzas, "whom I never met nor contacted," was "sending me emails with insults." She included Lanzas' email that called her a "piece of human waste." Months later, in October, she emailed the St. Regis manager again, writing, "Please be informed your Employee Noel Lanzas has not stopped insulting me. If you do not speak to him and take proper actions I am going to have to protect my self by reviewing your hotel."
Lanzas says he was pulled aside by human resources as a result, and an investigation was launched. Around that time, he filed an informational report with the Miami Beach Police Department, which notes that Lanzas stated he "needs to have this incident documented."
It got worse, Lanzas says, when Ozyesilpinar succeeded late last year in recalling the board members and then became president of the association. On February 12, according to emails Lanzas provided, she announced plans to inspect faucets in each of the condo units on February 14, Valentine's Day. Lanzas had an appointment but arranged for his parents to be at his place. Emails show Ozyesilpinar claimed no one answered the door and demanded $500 from Lanzas. She also threatened to put a lien on his property.
The stress of all of it kept Lanzas up at night. He emailed the condo's management company for help, started taking sleeping pills, and saw a therapist. Eventually, he says, he quit his job because the anxiety and lack of sleep made him struggle to keep up. The harassment, Lanzas wrote to the human rights commission, "has changed my life completely." He added that he now lives "in a state of fear" and leaves his apartment "in a hood because I don’t know what she will do next."
"We used to be a peaceful place," Lanzas tells New Times. "All of a sudden, it's a nightmare. I mean, driving home sometimes it was like, 'I don't want to go there. I don’t want to be surrounded by this energy.'"
Ozyesilpinar claims the former board members overcharged residents for work on the building and failed to pay bills on time, including a waste management bill with a balance from several months. (Lanzas says the bill was unpaid by the management company that ran the building.) In a response to the human rights commission, Ozyesilpinar wrote that the board members were first to harass her, calling her a "drag queen" and "prostitute." She says she only responded with insults "as I have to defend myself." As for the emails she sent Lanzas' workplace, she says she did so after he wrote negative reviews about the condo units she listed as short-term vacation rentals — a claim he denies.
"Noel, afraid to cover this money missing, simply came up with the story, 'Help me they are discriminating against me,'" Ozyesilpinar wrote in a letter to the commission. She tells a New Times reporter much the same, saying she isn't discriminatory and Lanzas is merely trying to "save his ass." In a text message, she wrote, "These people both the girl in London or Noel they are liars they are lying they are scamming us." (She also accused New Times of being out to get President Donald Trump, who she calls "the best president we ever had.")
Lanzas, for his part, denies any mismanagement. He's eager for the Commission on Human Rights to make a decision in his case, which he thinks will be helped by the stories about Ozyesilpinar's treatment of the U.K. tourist who planned to stay at her place.
"It's an exposé of somebody that has been hurting me for a year," he says.
But Ozyesilpinar apparently has no plans to ease up on Lanzas. The board had previously decided not to go after him for the money she claims he embezzled. But now that he has taken his story to the media, she says in a text message to New Times, she's decided to call an emergency meeting to make him pay.
"Me being the president of the board Noel is simply making his position worse," she says.